Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oil spill

This editorial encapsulates much of my thinking on the oil spill and leaking well in the gulf. We'll end up blaming everything and everybody except our appetite for oil and reluctance to tax it's consumption and support alternatives. Simply, we want cheap gasoline and the negatives that come with that are somebody else's problem. And it's not like this well didn't have safety equipment - it just seems this is one of the rare cases where everything went wrong even with the best laid plans to prevent the accident. What's happening in the gulf is apparently routine in other parts of the world - it's just visible here.

Effectively, we’ve been importing oil and exporting spills to villages and waterways all over the world.

I admit I'm part of the problem. I drive a truck that uses gas, drive it about 6000 miles a year. I was annoyed with $4.00/gallon gas as much as anyone. But I noticed it created a different thinking about energy and for the first time in a long time people were looking for alternatives and responding differently to the costs of consumption. We've gotta make the economics work for alternatives to have a chance though, and part of that involves making the cost of oil reflect it's true cost of consumption. Internalizing that cost if difficult - but somehow internalize the environmental costs as well as all the political costs of having to militarily protect access to oil.

It makes sense to subsidize and encourage alternatives or tax oil consumption more - either way would work to me it seems, but for some reasons taxes are more difficult to get people to support. (I do think there are more people who would subsidize alternative energy and energy saving investments who would not support gas taxes although the end result might be the same). What's the right amount? I don't know, but I feel very bad for the folks whose livelihoods are about to get turned upside down due the spill in the gulf.

No comments: